Nina On… Writing

August 28th, 2010

No time to write that novel? Here are my top time-saving tips.

Until the mid 20th Century, writers were educated men (or occasionally women) with private incomes and servants. They wrote in their studies and met their publishers for lunch. Ordinary people worked long hours, with short holidays and no access to typewriters or computers.

Now writers are waitresses or chefs, doctors or nurses, chief executives, gardeners, students, midwives or housewives… but we’re all short of time to write.

  1. Don’t worry. You’re in the same boat as everyone else. The Society of Authors estimates that 80% of authors earn half the minimum wage, so most are doing another job too.
  2. You read about authors being paid a huge ‘advance’ to write a book. An ‘advance’ is money paid before royalties come in, not money paid before the book is written. Most first-time writers sell a finished book plus an agreement to write a second.
  3. Carve out a few regular slots a week: maybe getting up early at weekends and writing after work two evenings a week. Make this your time. Say ‘no distractions.’ Think about your novel between slots, then get straight down to work on the scene you’ve been thinking about. This gets easier with practice.
  4. Keep a notebook by your bed and in your bag, so you can jot down thoughts.
  5. Too much time is as bad as too little – there is nothing as scary as a blank page! If you can take whole days or weeks off, do it when you’re already into the book, to edit, re-write or finish what you’ve already written.
  6. Treat your daily life as ‘research.’ You may think it’s boring, but your insider knowledge could make it a great setting for a story.
  7. Time spent writing is never wasted. You’ll get better at communicating, focussing and time management, all of which benefits your career or home life. Writing also helps you work through issues that may be holding you back or making you unhappy.

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